This Is Fine, Right?

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A New York Times story on the Trump administration’s sly campaign to push Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy towards retirement includes this curious little anecdote (emphasis added):

But they had a connection, one Mr. Trump was quick to note in the moments after his first address to Congress in February 2017. As he made his way out of the chamber, Mr. Trump paused to chat with the justice.

“Say hello to your boy,” Mr. Trump said. “Special guy.”

Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role.

During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history.

Is this... fine? Is that alright? It doesn’t feel fine, but maybe I’m wrong? Maybe it’s... fine, for the son of a Supreme Court justice to work with the future, hugely-indebted president as the company doled out $1 billion in loans to him?

TPM’s Josh Marshall argues it’s really as bad as it seems (emphasis added):

When I first read the Times story I wasn’t sure whether the younger Kennedy, whose title was Managing Director and Global Head of Real Estate Capital Markets, would have been someone to actually make loans to someone like Trump as opposed to overseeing more complex or synthetic efforts like mortgage backed securities and such. But it turns out he definitely was. The FT says Kennedy was “one of Mr Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche.” A review of Kennedy’s bio suggests those twelve years were 1997 through 2009 – key years for Trump.


I’m not one to venture an opinion lightly, but I feel like this isn’t, like, fine?

Oh look! There’s a whole other Kennedy boy whose relationship with Trump is maybe not entirely cool, per Politico last year:

One back channel is the fact that Kennedy’s son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles. Another is through Kennedy’s other son, Gregory, and Trump’s Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel. They went to Stanford Law School together and served as president of the Federalist Society in back-to-back years, according to school records. More recently, Kennedy’s firm, Disruptive Technology Advisers, has worked with Thiel’s company Palantir Technologies.

That feels bad, also. I do not feel good things about this.

More than anything, it’s evidence of how life is for elites. You’ve got friends, old coworkers, and sometimes your beautiful sons in high places across both the government and the biggest businesses that interact with and depend on government. Those connections can be leveraged for all manner of decisions that affect the entire country and, by extension, the world. And you’ve got a shitload of money to spend on stuff! It seems really cool. I would like to sign up.


Update, 10.33 a.m.: Take a look at this heartwarming video of Trump’s Special Little Guy chat with Kennedy the Elder:

Splinter politics writer.

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